Active LearningHow Can Active Learning Help Troubled Teens Fall Back in Love with School?

by Contributor


Many troubled teens face challenges in school. At Discovery Ranch, your son will have the educational and therapeutic support that he needs to overcome these challenges. Discovery Ranch uses a variety of different strategies to help teens rediscover their love of learning. Active Learning is one of these strategies. 

What is Active Learning?

When students in a class do something course-related other than simply watching or listening, they are taking part in Active Learning. Active Learning engages students in two aspects — doing things and thinking about the things that they are doing.


In order to learn, teens need to do more than listen to the teacher. When teens read, write, and discuss content with their teachers, then they are better able to learn. Each of these activities let teens learn at a deeper level than sitting and listening to a lecture would. Teachers who support active learning need to support an educational environment that allows students to take academic risks; to try new things, to work through challenges, and take on more responsibility in their learning process.

Why don’t more schools use Active Learning?

Educational researchers Bonewell and Eison observed, “Although active learning transfers, in part, the responsibilities of learning to the student, the course must also be designed to make student activities meaningful and goal-oriented.” Designing Active Learning student activities or implementing an Active Learning model can be challenging and time-intensive.


However, Active Learning activities can be as short as a few minutes long. Audience attention seems to wane after 10 – 20 minutes. Doing an Active Learning activity (discussing, taking notes, reading through material, working through problems that require a lot of thought, etc.) every 15 minutes or so is a great way to rebuild students’ attention.


How does Discovery Ranch use Active Learning?

The academic system at Discovery Ranch is modeled after an Active Learning model. Each class has twelve or fewer students. Teachers engage in one-on-one discussions with students that allows for discussions, demonstrations, and individual instruction. Students engage in applying and attempting academic tasks. Active Learning at Discovery Ranch is a process; it is not just one moment or one activity.


At Discovery Ranch, the focus is quality time with students rather than quantity.  Our interdependent model of learning allows students to learn actively while still benefiting from the guidance of a teacher.  Students share in the responsibility of their learning and success.


Students have one-on-one time with their teachers. During this time, the teacher and student discuss the material. The teacher assigns the students tasks or problems based on their individual academic levels. Then, students are asked to complete certain tasks or problems on their own. Whether students succeed or fail, they learn from their attempts; from taking academic risks and trying something new. After students have worked through the material on their own, the teacher returns to guide them. This process goes back and forth until the student and the teacher feel that the student has reached a point where they are able to show mastery of the concept.


Active Learning helps students develop a deeper understanding of the material that they study, and is more effective than lectures at inspiring students’ love of learning. Active Learning builds confidence and leads to success. It is one of the many methods that the teachers at Discovery Ranch will use to bring joy back to your son’s school experience.